Download one of the best personal organizer apps, and you can take control of your personal and work life. Modern life is busy, and keeping track of your appointments, responsibilities, and meetings is tough. Organizer software and apps can help you manage your time better, set realistic expectations for yourself, and ensure that you never miss another appointment again. Quite simply, simple calendars and personal notes just don't cut it anymore.
We've looked at a range of the best personal organizer apps to help you plan different aspects of your life. Most of these apps run on your smartphone and laptop concurrently, so you have access to your virtual to-do list regardless of where you are, or what you're doing. They specialize in personal scheduling, but some are more suited to work-place time management, and budget management.
Pleasingly, most of the following organizer apps and software packages are free (or rather cheap), so you won't need to pay much to get yourself sorted. Some do require a subscription, but most are single-time downloads for either your home computer or phone. Many will integrate with your email systems, and personal calendar apps (like Google Calendar), and will even link up personal documents to help you manage your life in a single app.
1. AnyTime Organizer Deluxe: Best organization software overall
AnyTime Organizer Deluxe has an easy to navigate interface that even a novice could use. There are scores of features that help even the busiest of people organize their time, and keep track of their activity. You can take advantage of its to-do lists, calendar, address book, budget template, word processor and other functions to plan out your schedule. You can set up recurring events, such as anniversaries, and other important dates, like meetings, appointments and bill due dates.
The handy in-program reminders are easy to set up, and a scrolling ticker atop the program keeps upcoming events fresh in your mind. It even alerts you when you have conflicting scheduled events, and makes it easy for you to reschedule them.
The application can only be accessed via password, which deters prying eyes. It also has a built-in password manager, which can store all your passwords, PINs and usernames so you never get locked out of a site again. The one downside to the planner software, however, is its lack of external syncing options. It has no mobile companion app.
2. Google Calendar: Best free organizer app
If you're a Gmail user, Google Calendar is so well integrated with your email that it's worth at least a look. This is a mature calendar app now, with mobile apps and a robust web client. There's also integration with things like Google Keep's couud-synced notes and the Hangouts chat system.
Additionally, for those with larger screens, Google Calendar will run alongside the emails in your Gmail account, making it easier to see upcoming events and notifications, even before you've been sent them. It also allows reminders to be set according to birthdays, tasks, or general reminders.
The big strength of Google Calendar is that it's a cloud-based app that can sync through all of your devices, if you sign into a Google account. This means that it doesn't matter whether you're on a desktop or on the go with a smartphone, you can still have the same calendar available, and notifications, too.
While Google Calendar is relatively simple and straightforward, lacking some of the bells and whistles of other programs, not least color coded entries, that can be as much of a strength as anything. And as Google Calendar is free to use, it's hard to go wrong with it.
3. Any.do: Best web-based organization software
Any.do is available across mobile and desktop platforms, but it really shines on mobile thanks to an easy-to-use interface that gives you all the tools and information you need formatted well for the smaller touchscreens.
Any.do easily connects to existing calendar apps to import events, and it keeps everything in order by color-coding all your various calendars and events .
While it may not be as in-depth as other specialized business calendar apps, for most users this is a brilliant way of keeping your meetings and appointments in order. Best of all, there's a free version you can try.
4. MSD Organizer: Best for organizing budgets
Available as freeware or a paid-for Pro version, MSD Organizer has a ton of tools to keep your life in order. Each resource is located on a panel across the top of the screen including a calendar and to-do list.
It's easy to alter your schedule with the calendar's drop-and-drag feature and the to-do list is incredibly detailed. You can see everything from a job's completion status and how much time you have left to finish.
There are also templates for organizing your budget, health records, music and even your property. The address book is extremely easy-to-use and while there isn't an app and the support options aren't great, the MSD Organizer Pro has a ton of tools if you love being organized.
5. LeaderTask: Best organizer for managing teams
The clean, modern design of LeaderTask displays your daily to-dos until you check them off the list. You can also note whether a project is urgent or use the app with a group of people and assign chores to each signed-in member. That makes LeaderTask a great tool for managing employees.
The software puts an emphasis on long-term goals while the calendar helps you stay on top of day-to-day tasks. You can add birthdays and holidays, but this program is best for work. The desktop version of this software can also save to a thumb drive or other storage device so you can access it at work, at home or on your phone.
Why trust us on organization software?
We have tested organization software in-house for several years. The applications were thoroughly researched and tested, with all of the features and functionality studied and compared. We considered each program’s interface design, task-oriented tools, budget templates, schedule planning, security, integration, configurations, customer tech support and ease of use, all while examining how effective each program would be for users of all requirements and experience levels.
What features and tools should organization software have?
All of the organizers come with similar organizing tools such as address books, calendars, note sections and task lists; however, the planning programs differ in convenience features. For example, all of the organizer software we evaluated offers either a calendar or date planner, but only some of these organizers allow you to assign your tasks a priority level and remind you about upcoming events. Likewise, not many of the organization programs alert you to events with conflicting times. Programs with all of these features rank high in our line-up, as each one greatly improves organization.
Each program has a to-do list tool. To test these lists, we tracked tasks and evaluated how the programs alerted us to each task. Programs with reminders, filters and categories make it easy to customize to-do lists to work best with your organization style. We also took note of the programs that allow you to adjust each to-do item’s priority level, as this feature helps you complete your tasks in an efficient manner.
All of the organizers we reviewed come with an address book to hold your contact information for a large number of people. While some of the programs include extra features, such as the ability to add a photo to your contact or access driving directions, each software’s address book functioned similarly.
Security features on organizing software
Organizing software is set apart from personal information managers like Microsoft Outlook by its security features. Since you are likely to store personal information in your organizer, a program’s security features are just as important as the tools available. All of the programs we reviewed are protected by passwords to keep your data secure. Some of the organization software can also generate passwords and securely store them for email, social media and other websites.
Usability of organizing software
While each organizing program has a unique feature set, we evaluated the usability of the software and the effectiveness of its tools. Our ease of use score considers how easy it is to input events into the calendar, add tasks to the to-do-list, create notes or journal entries, add contacts to the address book and use the password manager. The score also factors in the presence of features that make the above tasks easy to complete. For example, the ability to create a recurring event improved the usability of the calendar and resulted in a higher ease of use score.
There is little difference in the usability of the organizers we reviewed; they’re all rather intuitive and easy to use. While the address book and notes tools were included in our score, the differences between these two tools are minimal from one application to the next.
Mobile sync of organizing software
Some of the programs we reviewed include a mobile app. Using this organizing app, you can access your information on your smartphone from anywhere. Most of the planning software syncs with Android and iOS systems and some even with Windows phones. Downloading these apps and syncing them to their desktop is easy. Some of the applications don’t include apps and instead sync with Google or upload your information to the cloud.
When software uploads to the cloud, your organizer is always up to date on all of your devices, making it the best option. However, most cloud services require a subscription fee to store your information. If your software doesn’t upload to the cloud, you have to sync the planning software on your computer to your smartphone’s app, or vice versa, each time you input data.
Many of the programs automatically import data, contacts and events from Google when you give them access to your account. This feature is very useful if you are already using Google to keep track of your tasks. It also provides you with another way to access the information on the software from a handheld device. During testing, we were able to import information from Google with ease using the programs that have this feature.
Export options of planning software
If you use the planning software as a word processor or need to export your calendar, to-do list or address book, it’s important to find software that exports the file types you use. For example, if you use the software’s journal feature, you want to export the files either in text or PDF format. Most of the programs export text files, with the best organizing software exporting CSV, XML, HTML and PDF formats.